Attorney looking for Flint parents who lost child custody when their water was cut off | Michigan Radio
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Attorney looking for Flint parents who lost child custody when their water was cut off

Sep 14, 2015

An attorney is looking for parents in Flint who may have lost custody of their children after having their water shutoff.

Valdemar Washington
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Attorney Valdemar Washington is heading a class action lawsuit against the city of Flint. The lawsuit seeks damages for the city’s sky high water rates.

Washington says he’s heard stories of child protective services allegedly removing children from Flint homes after the city shutoff water service because the family failed to pay their water and sewer bills.

“This would be a very poignant and powerful example of people who’ve suffered irreparable harm,” says Washington.

But are the stories attorney Valdemar Washington has been hearing accurate?  

A spokesperson for Child Protective Services says a lack of running water alone is not enough of a reason to remove children from a home.

“In these situations, we work with families to find alternatives – such as having their children bathe at a relative’s house, or refer them to public or private assistance that might be available in their community for paying water bills so that water services can be restored,” says Bob Wheaton, a spokesman with the Department of Health and Human Services.

The class action lawsuit against the city is still in the early stages.

In the meantime, the city of Flint continues to fight the legal battle in the courts. 

A judge recently ordered the city to rollback a 35% rate hike put into place in 2011.   The judge ruled the rate hike violated city ordinances. 

The city is asking the Michigan Court of Appeals to stay the lower court’s ruling. 

City officials say the ruling will wind up costing Flint millions of dollars in revenue this year. 

If it loses the class action lawsuit, the city stands to lose millions more. 

City attorneys have said the water lawsuits could potentially have a “devastating financial impact” on the city of Flint. 

Attorneys on both sides have met once to discuss settlement options, but no further meetings have been planned.